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Golf's nearly man and Premier League imports

Steven Lynch November 21, 2011
Andy Murray is bidding for ATP World Tour Finals victory © Getty Images
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With the year-end ATP World Tour Finals taking place - and Andy Murray taking part on home turf - has anyone ever won it who wasn't a grand slam champion? asked Leslie Martin
The World Tour Finals - the end-of-year men's tennis championship - began life as the Masters Grand Prix in 1970, when it was won by Stan Smith. Since then it has been won by three people who never won a grand slam singles title: Alex Corretja won in 1998 (beating his fellow Spaniard Carlos Moya, who only won one himself); the Argentine David Nalbandian won a five-set final against Roger Federer in 2005; and Nikolai Davydenko of Russia beat Juan Martin del Potro in 2009, in the first final held in the event's current home, the O2 Arena in London. Smith, Ilie Nastase (1971), Guillermo Vilas (1974), John McEnroe (1978), Ivan Lendl (1981) and Andre Agassi (1990) all won this tournament before they captured a Grand Slam singles title. Federer, Lendl and Pete Sampras each won the event on five occasions.

Who are the youngest and oldest jockeys to win the Grand National? asked Peter Spiring
The youngest Grand National winner was Bruce Hobbs, who was only 17 years and three months old when he triumphed in 1938 on Battleship, the American horse which is the only one ever to win the English and American Nationals, having won at Belmont Park in 1934. Hobbs, a New Yorker himself, won the Welsh Grand National two weeks after the Aintree one, but broke his back in a fall later in 1938 and never rode competitively again, although he did take up training. The oldest Grand National-winning jockey was Dick Saunders, who was 48 when he rode Grittar to victory in 1982. He remains the only member of the Jockey Club ever to have ridden the winner of the National: he retired from the saddle after his victory, and later became chairman of the stewards at Aintree.

Which athletes have achieved the 400/800-metre double at the Olympics? asked Will Carey
The only man to achieve this remarkable double is Cuba's Alberto Juantorena, at Montreal in 1976. A tall athlete known as "White Lightning", Juantorena first took the 800 metres in world record time, then triumphed in the 400 metres three days later, beating off a trio of fancied Americans to complete the double. He showed it was no fluke by repeating his twin successes in the World Cup in Dusseldorf the following year. However, Juantorena could not defend his titles successfully at Moscow in 1980, finishing fourth in the 400 metres (he didn't enter the 800). No woman has yet managed this double, the closest approach being by Britain's Ann Packer at Tokyo in 1964: favourite for the 400 metres, she finished second behind Betty Cuthbert of Australia, but won her less-favoured event, the 800 metres, setting a new world record in the process.

There are so many overseas footballers in the Premier League these days that you can't count them. But how many were there when the Premiership was set up in 1992-93? asked Jonathan Richmond
Times have changed a little - there were just 13 non-British (or Irish) players in action on the first day of the new FA Premier League on August 15, 1992. Four of them were goalkeepers - Craig Forrest (Ipswich Town), Peter Schmeichel (Manchester United), Hans Segers (Wimbledon) and Jan Stejskal (Queen's Park Rangers) - while the nine outfield players were Eric Cantona (Leeds United), Gunnar Halle (Oldham Athletic), John Jensen (Arsenal), Andrei Kanchelskis (Manchester United), Anders Limpar (Arsenal), Roland Nilsson (Sheffield Wednesday), Ronny Rosenthal (Liverpool), Michel Vonk (Manchester City) and Robert Warzycha (Everton).

Lee Westwood is hungry for major glory © PA Photos
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Has any golfer ever finished second in all four majors without ever winning one? asked Chris Clarke
No-one has quite done this. The best record for near-misses is held by our very own Lee Westwood. He has finished second in the Masters and the Open (both in 2010), and third in the US Open (2008 and 2011) and the PGA (2009). Someone else with a lot of "podium finishes" is the Spaniard Sergio Garcia, who's been second in the Open (2007) and the PGA (1999 and 2008), and third in the US Open (2005) - but his best performance in the Masters so far is fourth in 2004. Another prominent British golfer, Colin Montgomerie, finished as runner-up in no fewer than five majors without ever winning one - three US Opens, the 2005 British Open and the PGA in 1995 - but his best performance in the Masters at Augusta was eighth in 1998.

Did Henry Cooper defend the British heavyweight title more often than anyone else? asked Colin Johnson
"Our 'Enry" had eight successful defences of the British heavyweight crown after relieving Brian London of the title in January 1959. Cooper gave up the title in 1967, but won it back from Jack Bodell in 1970 before controversially losing to Joe Bugner on points the following year. But even though Cooper uniquely won three Lonsdale Belts (given at the time for three successful title fights; just one is handed out now) he isn't top of this particular table. Proudly alone sits Bombardier Billy Wells, who made no fewer than 13 successful defences of the British heavyweight title between 1911 (when he took the title off William "Iron" Hague) and 1919, when he lost it to the Hampshire fighter Joe Beckett. More recently Danny Williams successfully defended the title on seven occasions.

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